On Tuesday, June 7, MuCEM - Museum of Civilisations of Europe and the Mediterranean opened its doors to the public, showcasing Mediterranean civilizations in the twenty-first century and representing the first of the three museum projects in France’s second largest city whose collections are fitted-out by Goppion S.p.A.
Leveraging the opportunities offered by its status as a European Capital of Culture 2013, Marseille is undergoing an unprecedented regeneration. The work of contemporary architects, planners and civic and cultural leaders is transforming the city into a safer and sophisticated, Mediterranean metropolis.
In defining its look for the future, Marseille has explored its roots, its traditions and its historic and cultural heritage. A significant investment has been made in the cultural sector – involving both new museum projects and renovations – that tell the history and celebrate the unique identity of this multi-ethnic metropolis that bridges the Mediterranean and Europe.
A considerable contribution to these efforts has come from Italian firms. Besides such noted architects as Stefano Boeri and Renzo Piano, other Italian companies have participated in Marseille’s revitalization.
One of these is Goppion of Trezzano sul Naviglio (Milan), which has produced the display environments for no less than three museums: the MuCEM, the Musée d’Histoire et du Port Antique and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs et de la Mode.
The MuCEM, Museum of Civilisations from Europe and the Mediterranean, occupies an important new building designed by Rudy Ricciotti. Overlooking the sea, whose history and culture it celebrates, it honors the ancient crossroads of the trade routes of Mediterranean commerce that have defined Marseille’s unique history and culture for centuries.
The exhibition narrative is organized thematically into four overarching concepts called singularités, that include numerous objects, such as agricultural tools, sailing ships, sacred reliquaries and religious articles, textiles, popular images and toys, and contemporary art illustrating the evolving customs and life-styles of the region and how they impacted, combined and influenced each other.
Goppion has given form to the project for the permanent gallery, designed by Adeline Rispal, by producing the entire display layout and the 77 display cases it includes. With clear reference to the lightness and dreamlike qualities of the sea and the sails that cross it, large semi-transparent fabric panels hanging from the ceiling guide the visitor on a voyage of discovery. The exciting variety of the exhibit objects are housed in large display islands of wood and Corian topped by extra-light glass bonnets.
The most precious objects, including the world’s largest gold nugget, are shown in the ‘cabinet de curiosités’, an original composition of wholly sealed display cases, with active relative humidity controls.
The general theme of the museum, the - “perfect illustration of the dialogue between peoples” is, according to Jose Manuel Barroso, the current President of the European Commission, wonderfully symbolized by the commissioned creation of artist Michelangelo Pistoletto: a five-petaled flower enclosing symbols of the world’s five religions (including atheism), which in their diversity form a single whole.